What is the Ketogenic Diet?

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Keto Diet

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The Science:

The Ketogenic Diet is a low-carb, moderate protein and high-fat diet that involves reducing carbohydrates (processed sugars, grains and starches) and replacing them with fat (avocados, oils, and nuts). 

A few terms you will hear often in the keto diet world:

  • Glucose: Glucose or blood sugar is one of the body’s preferred sources of fuel and it comes from digesting carbohydrates. 

  • Insulin: The pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that moves glucose from the blood to the body’s cells for energy or storage.

  • Ketones: Ketones are produced when the body doesn’t have enough insulin to turn sugar into energy. Your liver uses the fat from food or in storage to produce ketones which will then be sent into our muscles and other tissue to be used for fuel. 

When the body ingests carbohydrates, it will either use the glucose it creates for energy or store it as fat for later use. 

Dramatically lowering your carb intake puts the body into a state of ketosis, where it begins to use fat for fuel. Since our body uses fat as a primary energy source while in ketosis, it starts to break down fat stores, resulting in weight loss.

Basically, it means:

Eating fat makes you lose fat. Eating carbs makes you gain fat. Why? If our bodies need carbs for energy, it will a) store fat it doesn’t need and b) make us want to eat more carbs when we need more energy. If our bodies need fat for energy, it will a) use the fat we eat and b) use the fat stored in our body when we need more energy.

What are the benefits of the Ketogenic Diet?

Although the diet was originally created to treat patients with epilepsy, the Ketogenic Diet has since proven to be very beneficial for dieters. The first and obvious benefit of the Keto Diet is weight loss. Many studies have found that in addition to promoting weight loss, the Ketogenic Diet can also:

  • Improve skin conditions, such as acne
  • Increase levels of good “HDL” Cholestorel, reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, which is helpful for people with diabetes and insulin resistance
  • Reduce brain fog and lethargy
  • Regulate hormones

What are the risks of the Ketogenic Diet?

Unfortunately, the Ketogenic Diet does not come without its potential side effects. One of its most common side effects is the Keto Flu. The Keto flu usually happens during the first few weeks of transitioning to the Ketogenic Diet and lasts a few days. Dieters can experience symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Insomnia

Other side effects of the Ketogenic Diet include, but are not limited to:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Reduced physical performance
  • Hair loss
  • Indigestion
  • Rash

These side effects could be temporary, or they could be a sign that Keto may not be right for you. It is super important to listen to your body. Furthermore, dieters with pre-existing health conditions are recommended to consult with their physician before making any drastic changes to their diets.

You can find the extensive YES AND NO list here

What can I eat?

In short, you can eat:

  • oils (coconut oil, olive oil, ghee);

  • meat (fish, beef, poultry, eggs);

  • high-fat dairy (cheese, cream, butter);

  • non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce);

  • fruits with a low glycemic index (berries, cantaloupe, lemons);

  • low-carb nuts and seeds in moderation (almonds, walnuts, flax seeds);

  • nut and seed flour (coconut flour, almond flour, flaxseed meal) and;

  • sweeteners (stevia, erythritol, monk fruit).

What are the big “No-Nos” on Keto?

On the Keto Diet, dieters should avoid foods like:

  • grains (rice, wheat, cereal);

  • sugar (sugar, syrup, honey);

  • fruits with a high glycemic index (pineapple, orange, banana);

  • starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, squash);

  • legumes (beans, lentils, peas);

  • trans fats (margarine, fried food, preservatives); 

  • high-carb nuts (pistachios, cashews).

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